Bacteria are connected to how babies experience fear

Redactie, ‘Bacteria are connected to how babies experience fear – New research shows that an infant’s gut microbiome could contain clues to help monitor and support healthy neurological development’,, ScienceDaily (June 4, 2021)

Why do some babies react to perceived danger more than others? According to new research from Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, part of the answer may be found in a surprising place: an infant’s digestive system. (…) The MSU-UNC research team discovered that the gut microbiome was different in infants with strong fear responses and infants with milder reactions. (…) These fear responses — how someone reacts to a scary situation — in early life can be indicators of future mental health. And there is growing evidence tying neurological well-being to the microbiome in the gut. (…) As part of the study, the team also imaged the children’s brains using MRI technology. They found that the content of the microbial community at 1 year was associated with the size of the amygdala, which is part of the brain involved in making quick decisions about potential threats.


Alexander L. Carlson, Kai Xia, M. Andrea Azcarate-Peril, Samuel P. Rosin, Jason P. Fine, Wancen Mu, Jared B. Zopp, Mary C. Kimmel, Martin A. Styner, Amanda L. Thompson, Cathi B. Propper, Rebecca C. Knickmeyer. Infant gut microbiome composition is associated with non-social fear behavior in a pilot study. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-23281-y